I think the earliness of the year is smoothing out a bit now. Things have slowed down with the few decent frosts we’ve had in the last few days, but I can still pick a good three or four handfuls of Narcissus ‘Avalanche’ a week and this year have been doing so since Christmas. What a joy.
The bulbs are planted in the narcissus beds in the cutting garden, where we’ve chosen five different varieties to flower in succession. First comes ‘Avalanche’ which didn’t flower till March last year, (that’s how bizarre this year is) which is followed by ‘Silver Chimes’, then ‘Trevithian’ which was bred in Cornwall, ‘Geranium’ and finally N. ‘Actea’, of the beautiful Pheasant’s Eye group. They’re all highly scented, long vase life varieties, which excelled in our narcissus trial ten years ago and it’s rare to find a variety to supersede them.
‘Avalanche’ has been flowering away already for eight weeks and yet with all the other varieties, their foliage is not even showing. More of us should grow super-early ‘Avalanche’, which fills the mini fields on the Scilly Isles as a cut flower crop. That’s where I first saw it. Every stem divides at the top into six or seven thinner stems, each one topped with a miniature daffodil flower with ivory petals and a primrose yellow perianth (the trumpet bit in the middle). It’s six or seven flowers for most, but I have a few stems sitting in a jug on my desk of me with ten and eleven individual flowers. You only need a handful of stems to fill a vase and they’ll fill any room with their scent and even if you pick them with their flowers already open, will last over a week in water.
Arrange them on their own or with snowdrops or hellebores. The only rule is, don’t have all their stems at the same length. Have some picked quite short, with others almost twice that height. Then they look pretty and natural – as they should – just picked, not from the supermarket, but the garden.
I’ve also picked the last of our forced ‘White Pearl’ and L’Innocence Hyacinths from the greenhouse, but was happy to see the first of the palest, pearly ‘China Pink’ coming into flower in the garden today, so their timing is perfect.
Thanks for reading!